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Ask The Expert: Elvis Presley on a unique disc

A recorded performance of Elvis Presley raises a few questions.
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QUESTION:The RecorDisc Corp. was owned and operated by the Gould-Moody Co., which specialized in making professional quality blank records for home use in the ‘40s and ‘50s. This particular disc (shown above) has a handwritten date of 4-2-56 on both sides which is intriguing, if true. “Blue Moon” was released on both 78 (RCA 20-6640) and 45 (RCA 47-6640) in September of 1956. How could anyone have had a copy in April? A later RCA release (RCA 447-0609) notes that “Tutti Frutti” (the B-side) was recorded Jan. 30, 1956 so this makes a little more sense that someone might have made a copy of someone else’s record.

A quick Google search says that Elvis Presley performed on “The Milton Berle Show” on board the USS Hancock in San Diego, CA April 3, 1956. He performed “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes” which was the A-side to “Tutti Frutti.” I’ve listened to it a couple of times and it plays great! I’m no expert but it’s definitely Elvis. What have I got here?

— David Clark,Ted’s Recs, via email

ANSWER: That is a home-recording acetate. Consumers purchased blanks and recorded onto them. In this case, they probably recorded radio broadcasts. Elvis was in transit from Memphis to California at the beginning of April 1956. The broadcast that the original owner recorded may have been a re-broadcast of a performance that was recorded earlier.

Elvis did sing “Tutti Frutti” on February 4th (2/4), but that was on television, and he did not sing “Blue Moon” that day. He sang both of those songs frequently in 1956, though.

Most home-recorded acetates of the King from 1956 go for $100 to $200. A particularly nice one might sell for more.

— Frank Daniels
Goldmine Contributing Editor